Company responds to owners' claims that popular flea medication killed pets

ATLANTA — Documents obtained by Channel 2 Action News rule out a controversial flea killer in the deaths of several dogs. But in some cases, veterinarians cast suspicion on the drug, Bravecto.

After reporting that Bravecto is named in more than 300 death reports filed with the FDA, Channel 2's Jim Strickland dug through to get more details.

The drug maker, Merck, is disputing the information that Strickland got from dog owners themselves.

In a letter to veterinarians, Merck said of the dog deaths featured in our investigation: “There were no necropsies performed...the pet owners declined.”

However, one north Fulton County dog owner told Strickland that he never got the option.

“Merck has not done absolutely anything for me. I was told that after their veterinary professional speaks with mine that they would be calling me. I never heard a word,” Chris Weber said.

The owners of two other dogs who made allegations against Bravecto told Strickland that their dogs were already buried before necropsies could be performed.

Strickland poured over hundreds of U.S. cases and found necropsies in only about 15 percent of them.

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Ten puppies included in the Bravecto total actually died of acute trauma from a predator. Another was, hit by a car. But many necropsies were inconclusive with “no apparent cause of death.” Another report notes that “cause of death was not evident.”

“It’s discouraging. And you know, again that's why I feel like we need more information,” Veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Carney said.

Strickland's investigation reached more than 700,000 Facebook users on the WSB-TV Facebook page.

Many of the 500 comments deal with the lack of proof.

“I guess technically they’re right. I don't have 100 percent proof,” Carney said.

Carney is seeking help from an animal pharmacology expert to study the drug's effects.

Some grieving pet owners are simply looking for closure.

“I'm not the only one who feels this way. A lot of people feel this way. We just feel that we failed our dogs,”

A Merck spokesperson says there was a miscommunication to blame for Weber not being offered a necropsy.